Your rights as a couple – the legal requirements

Living together without being married or in a civil partnership implies that you have few financial, property, and child-related rights. Consider creating a will as well as entering into a cohabitation agreement to safeguard your interests.

Buying a house as an investment with someone else is most often referred to as “co-habiting.”

You are equally responsible for the rent and any other tenancy conditions if both of your names are on the rental agreement.

If you split up and one of you wants to leave, you’ll need to speak with your landlord or leasing company about changing the tenancy agreement.

Purchasing property as a couple

You may be a joint tenant, in which case you and your partner own the whole property together, or tenants in common, where you each have a portion of the home. Check out the GOV.UK website for more information on these words.

Find our more about purchasing a house with a partner

You’re both the landlord and the tenant.

If you’re considering separating, having an existing cohabitation agreement may make things simpler. You’ll need to decide how the property will be divided.

If one of you passes away, the property automatically goes to the surviving partner. This cannot be altered by your will.

You each own a portion of the property.

If you buy a home with someone else, you may either acquire an equal share or a larger one. You could agree to this if they pay more of the down payment or mortgage.

If you split up a property with tenants in common ownership, you will be entitled to your own portion of the home.

Unless your spouse has left their portion to you in their will, you will not receive it automatically if they pass away.

The property is owned by only one individual.

You will not usually have any rights to the property if you do not own it or a share in it unless you can show that you have:

  •  the homeowner’s income repaid the down payment or mortgage installments, or
  •  You have made a financial investment, such as paying for major work on the house, with the understanding that you would acquire a portion of the property.

If you split up and aren’t the owner, you have no right to remain in the property. And, unless your spouse’s will specifies otherwise, you won’t automatically inherit the home if he/she dies.

If you agree that both of you should have a stake in the property, you can create a joint tenancy. A lawyer might be able to assist you with this.


The father’s only parental responsibility is if they are listed on the birth certificate. Parental authority denotes a say in issues concerning the child.

Even if the father is named on the birth certificate, he will not automatically obtain parental responsibility for births registered before December 2003.

If you divorce, you may be required to pay child support.

If you divorce, you are legally required to pay child support. This applies even if you do not have parental authority. You may apply to the Child Support Agency for payments and the parent who does not live with the kid may be ordered by a court to pay.

Infant or toddlers from a prior relationship

You do not gain parental responsibility for your partner’s children or grandchildren from a prior relationship just because they have them.

Emergencies and death in the middle of a medical crisis

If your spouse becomes sick, you will not be treated as their next of kin unless you and they have entered into a written agreement beforehand. This implies that you will not have automatic rights to learn about their health or visit them in the hospital. Unless they have agreed on it in writing, you will not be able to handle their care.

If you pass away because your spouse is not your next of kin, they will not be able to make any arrangements on your behalf.

Accounts linked to your bank account

If you die without an ongoing relationship, your spouse will not be able to access your bank accounts. Find out more on the Money Advice Service website.

Pension access

If you pass away, your state pension will not automatically be paid to your spouse. Different regulations apply to the company and personal pensions. Learn more about the Money Advice Service on their website.

Benefits from the tax code

You and your spouse do not receive any tax advantages as a couple. If you want to give your partner, for example, real estate or a large sum of money, you’ll have to pay taxes on it.

Wills and cohabitation agreements

If you and your partner’s interests are to be safeguarded, you might want to consider getting a cohabitation agreement and creating a will.

Your spouse and their children will not receive anything if you die without a will. They’ll be able to make a claim only through the court if:

  • If you reside together for two or more years or have been living together for that length of time
  • these individuals were financially assisted by you

Find a lawyer to assist you with cohabitation agreements and wills.

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